Poor long-term outcomes despite improved hospital survival for patients with cryptococcal meningitis in rural, Northern Uganda

Mark Okwir, Abigail S Link, Bosco Opio, Fred Okello, Ritah Nakato, Betty Nabongo, Jimmy Alal, Joshua Rhein, David B Meya, Yu Liu, Paul R Bohjanen

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Background Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) remains a major cause of death among people living with HIV in rural sub-Saharan Africa. We previously reported that a CM diagnosis and treatment program (CM-DTP) improved hospital survival for CM patients in rural, northern Uganda. This study aimed to evaluate the impact on long-term survival. Methods We conducted a retrospective study at Lira Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda evaluating long-term survival (≥1 year) of CM patients diagnosed after CM-DTP initiation (February 2017-September 2021). We compared with a baseline historical group of CM patients before CM-DTP implementation (January 2015-February 2017). Using Cox proportional hazards models, we assessed time-to-death in these groups, adjusting for confounders. Results We identified 318 CM patients, 105 in the Historical Group, and 213 in the CM-DTP Group. The Historical Group had a higher 30-day mortality of 78.5% compared to 42.2% in the CM-DTP Group. The overall survival rate for the CM-DTP group at three years was 25.6%. Attendance at follow-up visits (HR:0.13, 95% CI: [0.03–0.53], p <0.001), ART adherence (HR:0.27, 95% CI: [0.10–0.71], p = 0.008), and fluconazole adherence: (HR:0.03, 95% CI: [0.01–0.13], p <0.001), weight >50kg (HR:0.54, 95% CI: [0.35–0.84], p = 0.006), and performance of therapeutic lumbar punctures (HR:0.42, 95% CI: [0.24–0.71], p = 0.001), were associated with lower risk of death. Altered mentation was associated with increased death risk (HR: 1.63, 95% CI: 1.10–2.42, p = 0.016). Conclusion Long-term survival of CM patients improved after the initiation of the CM-DTP. Despite this improved survival, long-term outcomes remained sub-optimal, suggesting that further work is needed to enhance long-term survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0303805
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Okwir et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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